Project Management

‘Consultant’ or ‘Contractor’: Does It Matter?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I describe myself as a consultant, and I describe my company as a consulting firm. Most of the independent project professionals that I have come across during my career refer to themselves in the same way—they believe that they are consultants, providing consulting services to their clients.

Sometimes, organizations are looking for those consulting services—but often, they’re simply looking for a contract project manager. And many of those project management consultants happily (and successfully) take on those contract project management roles.

So, is there a difference between a consultant and a contractor? Do we have to be careful how we describe ourselves and the services we offer? Or is it all irrelevant, are the terms interchangeable?

I think that the roles are different, but I also believe that there is considerable overlap. For many people, the terms have become synonyms for each other, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Let’s explore it…

Consultant vs. contractor
As you might expect, Google is full of advice on what the difference is between a contractor and a consultant, but I don’t find much of it particularly accurate. The general consensus is that somehow a consultant is “better,” working at a higher level and bringing with them more skills and experience. I’m sure that’s why …


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"Familiarity breeds contempt -- and children."

- Mark Twain

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